MichaelCD - The Blog.

The thoughts of Michael Cadwallader. Coffee loving, history book reading, Cheshire man.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Noble Tory

Richard Bacon MP. I have never heard of him before. But this was the man who shined the torchlight into the sewer, of the Home Office's immigration policy.

And proved that the real work of opposition is not on re-branding or courting the media, but good old fashioned hard work.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Growth, Liberalism, Peak Oil and The Future

For years survivalism has fascinated me. I have many books on the subject, from SAS Handbooks to Ray Mears' bushcraft books. Most of these focus on a survival situation, where someone is stranded from civilisation without adequate supplies of food, water or shelter. Maybe there is some ancestral Welsh pessimism within me, for my Taid was perhaps the most cautious person I have known. He would pack the car full of rope, spades and a first aid kit. But I have always wondered if there will ever be as situation, where this sort of knowledge would be important.

There is also a sneaking admiration within me, for the culture of self-reliance, which embodied the early Americans and early armies. I have also questioned; 'was that sort of life actually more rewarding?' Now don't get me wrong, I am certainly not a back to naturist. I, Unlike William Morris in News from Nowhere, don't believe that the Medieval world was some sort of utopia. I certainly don't believe that the Victorian World, which I so admire, was a utopia. But, I have to admit that a future of endless, greenless, monotonous suburbs, filled only with housing and Tesco's superstores, leaves me decidedly cold.

With this in mind I recently purchased, When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self Reliance and Planetary Survival. This book encompasses the survival techniques that I am familiar with from previous books. But it also offers advice and guides to self-reliant living, with sections on simple metal-working, crop growing and construction of home electricity generators. The most interesting part is, however, the introduction, which focuses on 'worse case scenario' outcomes in the future. There are a three 'big issues' which could lead to an unstable future. Global warming could leave us under water or in a desert, depending on where on the planet you live. Oil shortages could lead to wars and the break down of civic society. Earthquakes could become more prevalent within the US, as the pressure dissipated in the San Francisco earthquake has been building up for the last 100 years. Of course it's highly unlikely that they will all happen within the same time period. And
obviously, it's an important prerequisite of the book to suggest that there is a good chance of catastrophe. But, it would take a supreme optimist to deny that we will not have to deal with any of these in the near future.

That section has got me thinking on those different scenarios. Firstly global warming. I am concerned about global warming. I - unlike rabid free-marketeers - definitely accept that man has contributed towards the problem. Nonetheless I suspect that the sensationalist headlines fed to the media by publicity hungry scientists are over the top and unhelpful. It's my opinion that the planet will soon receive some respite, as it's very likely that the end of the days of cheap oil and transport, are upon us. This is both the great danger, and opportunity, for the future of Western civilisation. And this is what I really want to examine.

There is an obsession with growth, which as Rick Darby points out has become quasi-religious. We are not the only ones to think it's folly. Last year I read Joseph Kunstler's The Long Emergency and was introduced to the concept of Peak Oil. I discovered the Oil Drum UK blog devoted to Peak Oil. There's a quote from Kunstler in the blog entry:
Americans ought to regard the word 'growth' with trepidation.

When invoked by presidents and economists, it is meant to imply ideas like 'more' or 'better.' It's a habit of thinking left over from the exuberant phase of the industrial age, when there was always more of everything to get. Nowadays, though, as we enter the terminal years of cheap energy, the word 'growth' invokes a new set of ideas.

For instance, 'impossible.' With the price of oil edging toward $70-a-barrel now, and likely to flirt with $100 by the end of the year, the effect will be higher costs for virtually all products and services, and tremendous stress on every socioeconomic organism from the family to government at all levels to the Ford Motor Car Corporation. The only 'growth' we might expect under these conditions is the growth in our exertions to stay where we are, and the truth is that many of the weak will simply fall behind.
The cornucopian and Libertarian view is that technology will come through in the end. They, therefore also believe that there will be no disruption whatsoever to society, even when oil becomes scarcer. They use Malthus' overblown warnings about population control as an example of how wrong some of these predictions can be. They also talk of 'more efficient ways of extraction' and new biofuels. And yet, none of this seems particulary reassuring to me. In fact, it seems just like the sort of arrogance which has characterised many societies before they fell.

There are also many people who don't seem to be either aware of Peak Oil, or believe that it will have any impact. For instance, in the excellent Western Survival blog, Mark suggests that conservatives who believe in 'retreat to the countryside' are barking up the wrong tree:
We can't afford to be adopting a rural, agricultural model of society just as the Chinese are abandoning it. We have to be the people who are financially astute, who are running the financial world.
But, Kunstler shows that it's coal which led Britain to be the world leader and oil that has fed American growth in the 20th century. China's growth is fuelled both, by it's own coal resources and middle-eastern oil. Oil that will be hotly fought over. Currently China may have a massive factory workforce and India can pump out all the graduates it wants. But if the oil runs out, they are destined like us, to a future of cutbacks, and renewable energy. You could also factor in the dire state of the world water resources, and see how much of this is currently used by industry. China, will be one of the nations which suffers from this the most. From these factors, the only conclusion I can reach is that heavily industrialised nations - including China - are headed for a fall, unless they return to some sort of localisation.

This conclusion has got me thinking about what will happen in the near future, during and after energy crises. Chris Vernon talks about us needing a large voluntary reduction in energy demand. But I simply cannot see a government going to the country suggesting they cut back their energy use. If they went to the country with reduction in it's manifesto, what is stop the opposition ruthlessly declaring that there is no need for such reductions? Isn't it infact their whole nature to win power, without viewing the long term picture? Kunstler agrees here:
The desperate defense of our supposedly non-negotiable way of life may lead to a delusional politics that we have never seen before in this land. An angry and grievance-filled public may turn to political maniacsto preserve their entitlements to the easy motoring utopia - even while reality negotiates things for us.
My belief is that the mainstream politicians are simply not capable of responding to a crisis like of that magnitude. A few weeks ago a lady on Question Time summed up New Labour as reactionary. In that, they are constantly hurtling around reacting to whatever the media says is the current big issue. Perhaps the phrase 'Magpie politics' would be the best summarisation of this way of governing. Because, unlike a King or a Dictator they cannot focus on the long term, why would they? For they could be voted out in 5 years. All they are interested in is winning the next election. This was graphically illustrated to me, when I questioned a Conservative party supporter, on why the party had ditched a perfectly good policy. He told me that although he agreed with the policy, he also agreed with ditching it as "it was too easy for New Labour to rubbish with rhetoric". So if fighting for what you believe will be good for the country becomes too hard, don't bother. As it gets in the way of the sole purpose of politics. To be elected.

So, we can forget about governments. But what about people? Are people self-reliant in the modern world? Not in my opinion! What about the hundreds of thousands of people on welfare. Is it really that easy to go from being someone who has not had to show one ounce of self-reliance or work ethic in their whole lives. To someone who has to face hardship, with hard graft? Will they not simply ask the government 'to do something about it'? Yes, because government has taken the place of their parents and turned adults into children. The events of Paris last November, were the graphic example of how this could happen.

At the moment Liberalism holds all the cards. It enforces worship of it's state religion - diversity - ruthlessly. It pushes opposition to the margins and stifles debate. And, unfortunately that doesn't seem likely to change in the near future. But liberalism as a doctrine would be totally discredited by a turn of events like those described above.

All this leads to my conclusion, which I see as encompassing all these scenarios and arguments. It's my sincere belief the world population should be a manageable 1 billion. But, this simply isn''t possible with our current economic and governmental policies. As Martin Kelly points out:
The fuel of the system you inherited is people. Only more and more people can sustain a government with a structure like that of America today. Not the sort of people you want to grow naturally, like children, but fully-gown consumers and taxpayers.
The current system is a car crash waiting to happen. It needs more and more 'consumers', it needs to produce more and more products. It's a never ending cycle.

I read an article by Stephen Baxter in this months BBC Focus magazine. He think it's time to plan for a future of localism. These sustainable communities will be able to deal with shortages of oil and electricity and food will be produced locally.
In fact, he believes that we can marry the old tried and trusted villages and fuse them with the best parts of the modern world. He foresees a future of taxi cum buses called 'pod buses' and of everyone generating their own electricity, selling it back to the grid if they have a surplus. It seems a little idyllic. Nonetheless, the return of localism and regionalism could be a chance for a change.

As I see it, the plus side for us conservatives, will be a chance for true conservative communities to grow and develop; within their own framework and rules. Perhaps in the place of the current system would be regional government which would enable conservative areas to pursue their own policies. This is opposed to our current situation where we have; an all powerful liberal hegemony; an extremely centralised state; and heavily socialist regions like Scotland, Wales and Northern England can force their policies on the South-East of England.

All of this, is of course speculation. But the one definite, is that there will be interesting times ahead!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Crime and immigration

The media have been hounding jug-eared Charles Clarke on this interesting development, in the on-going saga of incompetence within the Home Office. Yes, thousands of foreign criminals who should have been deported have been allowed to slip through the net and get back onto the streets of Britain.

The national media have not, however, mentioned anything about this, which is another example of the lax border controls within the UK.
mmigration chiefs faced fury last night for allowing a member of a sordid Jamaican rape gang to make South London his hunting ground.

Sheldon Stewart, 26, was said to be part of the Buckles mob—a violent criminal outfit responsible for a spree of vile attacks in the Caribbean.[...]

Yet despite being know in his homeland as a gang member, Stewart, 26, was able to move to Britain where he has:

* raped a schoolgirl at gunpoint

* held a knife to another woman’s throat as he and a twisted accomplice tried to violate her

* taunted women who were prepared to stand up to him in court

* boasted of keeping young girls as SLAVES

Stewart was behind bars this week, facing a 12-year stretch for rape, attempted rape and possessing a gun.

But a scar-faced accomplice who took turns in raping the 15-year-old and is also a suspected Buckles member is still at large.

Victim support groups say the case highlights the disturbing ease in which potential sex attackers are able to slip unnoticed into the UK.

Their fury follows the rape and murder of schoolgirl Jeshma Raithatha by predator Viktors Dembovskis—welcomed to the UK despite a string of vile convictions in his native Latvia.

Immigration chiefs allowed Stewart into Britain in 2002, seemingly oblivious to the potential danger he posed.

This was because, like many gang members in the Caribbean, he lived under several street names making it hard for officials to keep accurate criminal records.

Tighter (obviously not tight enough - MCd) border controls were introduced in 2003, requiring Jamaican nationals to declare criminal convictions when applying to the UK, but even these are “not an automatic barrier” to the UK, the Home Office says.[...]

Inner London Crown Court heard how Stewart attacked a 15-year-old girl at gunpoint and dragged another woman into his flat in Peak Hill, Sydenham, after calling her “a white bitch”.

He and the scar-faced pal threatened to “burst” or shoot the first victim on November 25, 2004, if she didn’t submit to their sordid demands.

The girl had been lured into Stewart’s car on the promise of cannabis and a lift. Instead, both men took turns to rape her as a gun was held to her head.

Stewart targeted a second victim on December 30, 2004, first trying to chat her up, then bundling her into a car on the Tulse Hill Estate.

He called the 25-year-old a “white bitch” and drove her back to the Sydenham flat, where the accomplice was again waiting to pounce.

Stewart held a 7in long knife to the the sob-bing woman’s throat, but she kept calm and fooled the pair into letting her go to the toilet from where she fled.

The first girl, who was in social services care, was too afraid to give evidence.

But in an amazing show of bravery, she agreed to help nail Stewart after he phoned to taunt her over the allegations.

When cops from Streatham CID arrested the rapist at his girlfriend’s home in West Norwood, he claimed the 25-year-old was a prostitute and denied having sex with the teenager.

But jurors found him guilty of rape, sexual assault, kidnap, two counts of false imprisonment, two counts of possessing a firearm or imitation firearm, and an additional charge of witness intimidation.

Passing sentence, Judge Lindsay Burn described Stewart’s indifference towards his crimes as “extraordinary.”

Sentencing the killer to 11 years for the sex attacks and a further year for witness intimidation, the judge added: “It’s evident to me that you thought you could behave towards women in this way and get away with it.[...]

A Home Office spokesman refused to comment on “individual cases”, but said: “A criminal record is not an automatic barrier to entry to the United Kingdom.

“The Immigration database holds adverse information on individuals who we wish to prevent from entering the country.

“It contains certain details of overseas criminal convictions only where this information has been made available to the Police from an individual’s country of origin.”

Clarke's resignation would not assuage me whatsoever. The whole government policy on immigration controls, is embarassing, disastrous and downright incompetent. They hide behind the argument of economics, when in reality the likes of Stewart will cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands pounds whilst he is in jail.

Infact, although I am against the mass influx of Poles and Slovenes for mainly economic reasons, I feel the governments policy is an insult to them. The government, indeed the whole establishment, cannot see the difference between a hard working and relatively low crime causing Polish immigrant, and a Jamaican gangster/rapist or Romanian thieves.

Sadly, the difference of culture and race will never be acknowledged by the left and the media. But those who believe these types of people can in anyway benefit our country are either insane, or knowingly mendacious.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Immigrants and the Free Market.

Martin Kelly has a great post up on his blog, examining the consequences of mass immigration on the market.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


It now seems that Silvio Berlusconi did lose the election, although he still hasn't appeared in public to admit that. I came across this article on The First Post which blames the British press for contributing to Berlusconi's defeat. It's strong stuff. For instance:
The ignorance and prejudice shown by British journalists when they write about this magnificent country have angered me ever since I moved to Italy in 1998. And their knee-jerk demonisation of Silvio Berlusconi during the general election, which he lost by a whisker, was a disgrace.

They just don't get Italy.
And continues:
[...]grazie, British journalists, grazie mille. You did your bit to bring down Il Cavaliere (as we call him) and give Mortadella (Prodi) his Pyrrhic victory.

The British press failed to understand two crucial things:

First, yes, Berlusconi does own half the television stations here (not "90 per cent", as the Guardian claimed) but he does not control them, as anyone who bothers to watch a bit of Italian TV quickly realises.

In fact, his media empire has done Italy a great service, because it broke the Soviet-style state monopoly of broadcasting.

As for the Italian press, 90 per cent is left-wing - even Il Corriere della Sera, Italy's equivalent of the Times, is to the left (not "centre-right", as the Sunday TelegraphEconomist, standard-bearer of free-market values, to criticise those in France who oppose labour law reform as reactionaries, yet to describe Prodi in its pre-election cover story as "closer to the way of thinking of the Economist" than Berlusconi. Prodi is the epitome of the very forces of reaction that the Economist opposes. Universally derided as an embarrassing joke when president of the European Commission, he is a quack who talks mystically of wanting Italians to be "happy" and who still worships the idea of a European superstate.

[...]The largest of the 11 parties in his coalition is ex-communist and proud of its communist past (unlike the ex-fascist party which has apologised for its past), and the third largest party is communist and proud of its communist present. Its leader, Fausto Bertinotti, recently said yes, as it happens, his ambition is to abolish private property.

So the Prodi government has no hope whatsoever of reducing Italy's public debt (four per cent of GDP and one per cent higher than the limit set for the Euro zone). And without doubt, it will raise taxes.

There are those who would say that Nicholas Farrell is exagerating, and would ask: "how can the British press effect the Italian election result?". The fact is the Economist's comments were widely reported in Italy. I came across them on Yahoo Italia, and in a lot of the Italian newspapers the front cover with 'Basta' above Berlusconi's face, was shown.

Perhaps when Berlusconi labelled it 'The Ecommunist' he was on to something. As now, because of their 'baby out with the bathwater' editorial, Italy has been condemmed to a government of the hard left.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Quelle Surprise!

Reading the latest edition of New Scientist I came across this article. It's extremely relevant to those who believe in a strong society and community:

ACHIEVING Utopia might require a stick rather than a carrot. Punishment seems to be a necessary evil in the pursuit of a common good.

Participants in an investment game each received 20 tokens to invest over 30 successive rounds. Payments were made into a central fund and investors had to rely on the goodwill of others to swell the common fund. Players could choose between two groups: in one, they were able to punish those who did not contribute.

Although two-thirds of the 84 participants opted initially for the non-punishing group, players flocked to the punishing group when it became clear that returns were far better. The shift relied on a core group of about 15 per cent of the players who from the outset decided to punish freeloaders (Science, vol 312, p 108).

Bettina Rockenback of the University of Erfurt in Germany, who headed the research, says the work brings us closer to a general theory of human cooperation, and has important implications, because issues such as global climate change require people to act in the best interests of the group.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Chelsea Tractors

I wasn't particulary bothered about Gordon Brown's crackdown on the so-called 'Chelsea Tractor' brigade, in his budget speech. Many of my acquaintances have complained about them. The complaints are usually because of them cutting people up, tailgaiting e.t.c. So, coupled with the undoubted enviornmental impact and with their drivers being such inconsiderate people I came to the conclusion that taxing them harder was the right thing to do.

Over the Easter weekend I was in the Peak District, and, realised just how disastrous this policy will actually be for the countryside. Driving through the valleys, dodging sheep and tourists I found the lanes very difficult to navigate. And this is despite the fact that a lot of my practice when I was learning to drive was on the roads of Anglesey. It was also a nice sunny day, so God knows what it is like driving up there in the wind and rain or the snow.

When I came home, I visited the Countryside Alliance's website and found their budget response. Their response was:
“While we welcome the concept of environmental care which the Government is trying to address, we are extremely concerned that this measure directly discriminates against rural Britain with no significant environmental impact. As it stands, this vehicle tax ‘superband’ is merely paying lip service to the environmental lobby, and ignores the needs of the rural community, who put four-wheel drives to their proper use. An extra £45 on a tax bill will make no difference to those in urban areas who can fork out £50,000 on a leisure vehicle. “It will have a direct impact on farmers and rural workers who depend on their 4X4 vehicles to go about their daily business, and use them through necessity rather than choice. We are talking about people with battered four-wheel drives and real tractors rather than brand new immaculate Chelsea tractors."
It got me thinking about the coverage of the aftermath of the budget. I simply cannot remember this impact on the countryside being mentioned in any of the papers or on the BBC News or on SKY News. This maybe just my bad memory, but on the otherhand it wouldn't surprise me one iota if the metropolitan elite had simply ignored it.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Transformation of Marxism

The Brussels Journal has a superb review of Paul Edward Gottfried's book entitled: The Strange Death of Marxism. The theme of the book is that Marxism was primarily an economic theory. And, since the establishment of the so called "Frankfurt School" and the change in emphasis from economics to changing the moral and cultural philosophy of Europe. However, as Paul Belien points out:
Contrary to what the title of Gottfried’s book proclaims, I do not think that Marxism is dead in Europe. It has only shifted its emphasis.
The most important parts of the article for me, are the following:
Apart from a long introduction and a conclusion, Gottfried’s book consists of four chapters, dealing with Postwar Communism, Neomarxism, the Post-Marxist Left and the Post-Marxist Left as a political religion. The latter is probably the most interesting for American readers, as it also was to me, an atypical – because pro-American – European. I think it clarifies why the post-Marxist, multicultural social engineering has wreaked such devastating damage in Europe during the past three decades, while America, where Frankfurter School philosophers such as Herbert Marcuse developed their destructive ideas, remained relatively unaffected. Instead of using the state’s power to alter the economic framework of society or promote income redistribution, the Frankfurter School proposed to use the state as a radicalizing cultural force.
He continues:
The Socialist paradigm, which entails the deliberate neglect of any contract or moral principle that does not serve the current political objectives of the State, results in both the expansion of sexual liberty and the disappearance of economic liberty. Economic liberty and prosperity cannot exist unless people are true to their promises and the assumed set of moral rules by which partners are bound within a certain culture. Consequently, Socialism leads to the disappearance of all forms of partnership. Nothing is left but the individual and the State.
The motivation of the cultural vandals of the last 100 years, have always fascinated me. So this book, although written from a perspective of bewailing the death of old Marxism, gives an explanation as to how we have arrived at the current situation. It's very strange for someone like me to wish for the 'good old days' of old fashioned Marxism. But it's vicous decendent cultural Marxism is far, far worse.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Economics Of Immigration Part 2

The second article I wish to flag up, is this one from The Washington Post. The article by Alfred Tella, focuses on a number of areas which are important to the debate on immigration. I will start with this:
To say the continuing influx of low-skilled immigrants willing to work cheaply doesn't depress the wages of workers already here is to deny the basic laws of economics. To say a reduction or slowup in the numbers of illegals competing with legal residents, i.e., a smaller labor supply, wouldn't improve wages and re-employ many who have lost their jobs to illegals also doesn't square with the law of supply and demand.
And to me as a low wage earner, this is the most important part of the debate on immigration. The left were aware of this fact in the past. So, when Enoch Powell encouraged commonwealth immigration to fill gaps within the NHS. He was blocked by trade unions, who believed that the move was designed to keep wages artificially low. The obvious response to all this is that if the supply of illegals dried-up then businesses would go under:
The re-employment of legal workers at better wages would mean some marginal employers would go under. Also, some of the higher labor costs could be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices, although such price increases would probably be small and thinly spread.
With higher labor costs, employers would have a greater incentive to invest in technology, which would lower prices and lead to higher standards of living.
It is the drive for higher productivity that has led to technological advancements in the modern world. The article continues on the same theme:
Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), looked at native workers in occupations performed by people with a high-school education or less, about 25 million workers. He estimated immigration reduces the wages of these workers more than 10 percent, with minorities suffering most. A study done by economists for the National Research Council also found immigration significantly lowered the wages of high-school dropouts.
Tella then investigates the cost to the government through welfare e.t.c.:
[....]estimated the one-year net fiscal cost of illegal immigrant households to American taxpayers at about $10 billion at the federal level alone. Illegals were estimated to pay about $16 billion in taxes and cost the government $26 billion. (About half of illegals are estimated to be paid wages off-the-books.) The largest costs were for Medicaid, food benefits, aid to schools,[....]the cost of illegal immigrant households if a law were passed to make them legal. They would qualify for a wider range of government services and would make greater use of such programs as the earned income tax credit, even though more of their earnings would be reported and taxed. Tax revenue per household would rise an estimated 77 percent, but costs would rise even more, by 118 percent. The net result would be to nearly triple the annual fiscal cost, to $29 billion.
This article has shown how the 'obvious economic benefits' of immigration, can be shown up as hollow premises.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Greatest Language Book

I have just placed an order for a 19th century language book called "English as she is spoken". The said book is apparently the most hilarious dictionary ever produced. The background is simple. Two Portuguese gentlemen called Pedro Carolino and Jose Da Fonseca decided to write an English phrasebook. The major drawback to this is that they couldn't speak English, and even worse they didn't have an English dictionary. So, they used their French to English dictionary to write a Portuguese to English phrasebook. Crazy? Yes! But it resulted in perhaps the most hilarious example of lingusitics in history. According to Mark Twain:
Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can hope to produce it's fellow; it is perfect".
The most hilarious translations, first on hunting:
There is it some game in the wood?
Whilst on fishing:
That pond it seems to me many multiplied of fishes. Let us amuse rather to the fishing.
Surely this can't get any worse? Yes it can.
In the land of blinds, the one-eyed man is kings.
There is simply nothing I can add to that!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Immigration Economics Part 1

This will be the first of (hopefully) many posts on the economics of immigration. My objective is to show that the basic position of New Labour on immigration - that is provides large economic benefits - is mendacious. The economics of immigration are very, very complicated and I will try and show that it is not wholly good or bad.

I will start with this article from American legal immigrant Tony Dolz. The particular myth that he has attempted to demolish is that the Hispanic immigrants 'do the jobs that Americans won't do'. There are a number of questions which arise from this statement. Who does the jobs that the Japenese won't do? If the wages for these jobs were higher would Americans 'not want to do them anymore?' e.t.c. Dolz claims that 97% of the jobs the ilegals do are in sectors such as construction, hospitality, manufacturing and service jobs. As Dolz says:
Are these jobs that Americans will not do?
He then demolishes most of the other arguments for ilegals:
As to the "hard-working" claim, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) notes: "The proportion of immigrant-headed households using at least one major welfare program is 24.5 percent compared to 16.3 percent for native households."
All in all it's an article which deserves to be read. And when examined in depth the economic reasons for supporting immigration become more and more tenous, as I hope my collection of articles will show.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Italian elections

As I mentioned in my previous posts on languages, I have a fairly reasonable grasp on Italian now. I have therefore been able to follow the current election campaign a lot closer than usual. I first became aware of the campaign when I visited Milan in Feburary. The streets on the ride back to Malpensa, were lined with countless election bilboards. We only see these in Britain when an election is imminent, so I was very surprised that they were up a month and a half before the election! That is one of many differences between Italian and British politics.

The British press have majored on Berlusconi's gaffes, which to me, has a whiff of snobbery and arrogance about it. Our politicians maybe seen as superior to our press, perhaps because they are walking, talking, bland clones, who consistently talk to us like we are children. But, Berlusconi is a personality and that is why the Italians voted for him 5 years ago. However, ultimately Berlusconi has failed to deliver. Growth has slowed and his support amongst business owners has dried up. His personality based politics is simply not up to the task of giving Italy the reforms it so badly needs. The challenger to Berlusconi is Roman Prodi who seems to believe that high taxes is the answer to Italy's problems, as the Italians would say, Mamma Mia!

I attempted to find my Italian political position on Dove Sei? (literally, where are you?) Unfortunately as we are at poll day, the site has been overloaded and has crashed. Nonetheless when I voted on it I came out with a position just to the left of the Alleanza Nazionale of Gianfranco Fini. It's likely that I would have been virtually dead on their position or maybe a tad to the right if I hadn't of made a hash of one of the translations and alligned myself with the Italian Communists!! The AN come across to me, through their manifesto, as a very sensible party amongst the chaff of the others. I will be hoping that they come out of the elections with big gains.

The best blogging coverage I could find is from Black Knights, a great blog someway to the right of mainstream British "conservatism". It is a blog that I have found very easy to read and understand, even as a non-native speaker. His blog heavily support's Berlusconi and highlights many of the good things he has done in the last 5 years. I also love his tagline and I think that wherever we are in the world it's a universal truth:
Ciò che è bene per la sinistra è male per l'Italia. Ciò che è male per la sinistra è bene per l'Italia.

That, that is good for the left is bad for Italy. That, that is bad for the left is good for Italy.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Three interesting articles

I have found a number of interesting articles on the subjects of immigration, Dr Frank Ellis and Cameron and his 'bananas'.

The first is this - from of all people - The Guardian. A defence of the unfairly maligned Frank Ellis, citing the dangerous threat to free speech, that has manifested itself after the controversy.

Secondly, we have this from The Times. A Sri Lankan immigrant has formed a new party which seeks to destroy the vile political correctness and allow debate on topics like immigration openly. This quote sums up the MSMs bias perfectly:
I do think we should have controls on immigration. I can say these things because I am dark-skinned but, if a white person says them, they are accused of being a racist.
Finally, Hitch the good (Peter) has, three days after my own post, also attacked Cameron's nonsensical speech on housing. His commenters have very articulately put across a similar point to myself:

Why is David Cameron (and just about everyone else in mainstream politics from what I can make out) so keen to completely build over every inch of countryside[....]Rather than rapidly increasing immigration, wouldn't it be better to encourage those people who already live here to have more babies? This could be achieved through fairer taxation and benefits that give married couples a helping hand in hard times and allowed mothers to bring up their own children rather than farming them out to paid strangers. The system as it is now stands actively encourages single parenting and divorce, which in turn puts pressure on us to build more homes.[....]Unfortunately, all the main parties now seem agreed on the policy of inflating the population now to pay for the pensions of the future and worry about the social and economic mess they've created later.

That was from one commenter. Another continued:
Can we at this point just remind ourselves of some of the reasons why this sudden surge in house building has come about.Could it have anything to do with the current trend towards one person occupency?The breakdown of marriages and family life?The totally uncontrolled levels of immigration?And if so can we just remind ourselves who was at the forefront of the promotion of this unprecedented and disasterous 'policy' and what will be seen in time as the complete distruction of that thing we, who can remember far enough back as 'the British Way of Life'.You've guessed it,New Labour.
I am absolutely delighted that these subjects are being debated so vigorously. And perhaps it is due to the increasing power of blogging that the MSM can no longer afford to ignore views they disagree with.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A speech.

I mentioned the novel This Thing of Darkness in my recent list of favourite novels. In the novel the main character Robert Fitzroy is a prospective Tory MP for Durham. His election speech (in the novel) is a superb statement of the classic beliefs that are vital for a conservative party - to be worthy of the name - to believe in. I have abridged some of it below:

“There are 7000 more people living in County Durham this year than last. Next year, there will be a further seven thousand,. Seven thousand more mouths to feed. What shall we do, gentlemen? Shall we go on starving them, and forcing them into workhouses?[.....]Until our county, and our country, is bursting at the seams, and the multitude of the poor and hungry rises up in fury against us? The radical candidate, Mr Cowper, would give each every one of them the vote, and let them decide there own future. He would let them follow the Chartist lead, and smash the machinery in our factories and mines and woollen-mills. He would have them loot the houses of gentlemen, ‘til all prosperity is levelled to nothing, and every man made a pauper.[.....]But the road that Lord Melbourne’s government is following will take us there just as surely as if Mr Cowper were to lead us there himself. You may be satisfied of it. Already there has been one attempted revolution this year, in Newport. The factory system and the workhouses are not just breaking up families – they are literally starving our people to death. Are we not Christians, gentlemen? It would be an act of the most extreme injustice, I adjure you, if the wants of our population were not provided for. We must act, we must act humanely, and we must act now. This country must be governed in the interest of all its citizens, be they farmers or factory men, rich men or poor. It must be governed by men of experience. Men who have been trained to lead from an early age, for the benefit of all."

In modern Britain we are not seeing this. Taxation falls most heavily on low income and lower middle class workers who are struggling to raise themselves and their family through hard work. They are also being fed upon by the parasites called the 'underclass', example here. And finally we have mass-immigration enabling businesses to pay pitiful wages to these docile workers, thus maximising profits and exerting a downward force on wagesand squeezing native born workers out of the workplace. We now have a wider gap between the rich and the poor than when New Labour took office.

I can, and will, criticise Cameron elsewhere. But his policy of placing the interests of low income earners at the top of his priorities is the right thing to do. In fact it is the conservative thing to do. I only wish he would think more carefully about who he criticises in the future.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


My post from November 2004 entitled 'Monoglot Michael' raised a smile. At the time I was reading numerous novels, mainly from the 19th century. In these novels the protaganists were from a time when excellence in schooling was widely viewed as a good thing. Most of the characters had the ability to play at least one instrument and spoke a number of languages. I have tried learning the Guitar and Keyboard and was very very bad at both. However, when it came to languages I always thought I had untapped potential. So, as I wanted to be seen as cultured and also looked forward to being able to read foreign newspapers, I decided to start learning Welsh. Looking back now my attempts were rather half hearted. I understand more, but without a dictionary I wouldn't even be able to get the jist of a sentence.

In the summer of 2005 I was looking through the bargain book bin in my local bookshop and came across a cheap Latin dictionary. I was fascinated by the sheer number of words which were adapted from the language into English. More surprisingly I looked at the grammar section and found it very interesting. The format of actor-acted upon-action, was quite bizarre at first, but it became very easy to understand after a short time. However, I was aware that Latin wasn't taught in the local area so I thought long and hard about studying it via a correspondance course. In the end I - perhaps naively - thought that the grounding in Latin would enable me to pick up Italian fairly easily. And with this in mind I enroled on Italian for beginners at a local college. I am now seven months into the course and can confidently understand numerous questions and words. In Feburary I visited Milan and although it was a little daunting, I managed to order in Italian and ask the way to places without to many problems.

All this language learning in me has awoken in me a previously unknown interest in words. I have been able, through the use of flash cards, to memorise hundreds of words. This method of endless repetition seems to suit my learning style. But, the biggest and most profound change is the aforementioned interest in grammar. As my post from 2004 suggests, German grammar in school went completely over my head. And most embarassingly of all, I finished second last in my class for German. (In my defence this was the top tier class!)

Now, I have purchased countless language books, many of them about grammar. As a result of all this I have gone back to basics, and have began learning about
English grammar. This is a cause of slight embarassment; for afterall I am a man in his twenties, not a schoolboy! Yet I was simply not taught thoroughly enough such things as the correct use of colons, semi-colons, and even commas. I mentioned this to a former English teacher and he was in full agreement. He told me about the decision to stop teaching grammar in the old style in the 1960s and also told me about the myth that you are unable to start a sentence with 'and' or 'but'. This myth has perpetuated for years and unsurprsisingly I was taught this as well. I only realised it was incorrect when I read novel after novel where the 'rule' was broken. Obviously we agreed that the last 40 years has been a disaster in relation to grammar and it's unsurprising that English people find it nigh on impossible to learn other languages. All this rang very true with me. He did claim that they have brought back 'proper' grammar lessons in schools now. Which must be for primary school children as the standard of grammar amongst teenagers on internet messageboards is abysmal.

I realise it is easy to blame teachers and curiculums for your own failings and I am certainly not claiming to be a frustrated genius! Nonetheless, I have shown that I really did have ability in languages and it was the poor background in English grammar that let me down. The simple fact is that I was failed by the modern British school system.